A love for threads

Fashion designer to look out for

04 October 2019 | Art and Entertainment

She's highly credited as a fashion designer and an entrepreneur, which are both synergetic elements.

Truworths Design Award winner for 2018, Leone Shimuketa, added another accolade to her name last weekend when she won the 'Designer to look out for' award at the Katutura Fashion Week (KFW) awards.

To get into the fashion and business world already paints her as brave, as it's only a few people who have woken up to chasing a dream such as hers. Shimuketa truly understands the value of living. Narrating how she got into the fashion world, she shared that growing up she always wanted to be a fashion designer. She enjoyed dressing up and started making clothes with any material she could get. “I remember making clothes from black plastic bags and I would have my mini runways behind our house.

“My grandmother, mother and aunt always looked well-dressed, this made me understand how clothes can make you feel. I soon realised what fashion meant to me. Fashion tells stories about people and reflects their mood and I fell in love with that story,” she said.

Shimuketa is the founder of the sophisticated street wear brand SIRENGA. She explained that SIRENGA is actually her middle name which means beautiful woman. For her brand, Shimuketa draws inspiration from collaborations between fashion celebrities and sportswear powerhouses. “For instance; Kanye West's Yeezy with Adidas, Rihanna with Puma and Abloh Virgil with OFF-WHITE. These are some of the designers or creators that inspire my brand from their aesthetics, creativity and unique sense of style,” said Shimuketa

She expressed excitement over her recent victory at the KFW awards. “I'm over the moon, this award is more like me giving back to my mom. Everything I do is for her. I owe her my life; all those sleepless nights, sacrifices and hard work are really paying off.”

Still on the subject of her accolades, Shimuketa added that she has won two awards from Truworths. The first one was Most Outstanding Achievement for a client project in 2017. This afforded her an opportunity to do her internship at Truworths in Cape Town. The second one was Most Fashionable Commercial Range award in 2018 for her collection. “It was humbling for me, being in a foreign country, and they actually chose me as a winner. It is also important to note that these opportunities came with a lot of financial struggles.

“I wanted to give up at some point but I survived. It was such a great feeling when designers who were already in the industry walked up to me, telling me how amazing and unique my work was. I remember one telling me how big I was going to be one day,” she recalled.

She announced that she will be showcasing a new collection called VIGILANTE at the forthcoming Windhoek Fashion Week. She maintains that it is still street wear and will consist of both men and women's wear. “SIRENGA is growing bigger and better, we have a lot in store; so many ideas I want to bring to life under SIRENGA. I am really excited about this journey. I just want to inspire people and tell my story through my work, so I'm really excited,” she said.

If you attended the Gazza Milli Concert, you may recall that Gazza went all out with his stage outfits, some of which were made by Shimuketa. On what it was like working with Gazza for such a milestone concert, Shimuketa said she has always been a fan of Gazza and it was a great experience.

“I had a few sleepless nights because I really wanted everything to be perfect and in the end it was all worth it. I made the bulletproof vest and the ski masks,” said Shimuketa.

With her beautiful looks, tjil imagines that growing up Shimuketa was probably that girl who boys wanted to know or at least greet. With many people having the belief that with beauty comes the most relaxed life ever, tjil had to ask: Growing up, was Shimuketa ever conscious of her appearance, and if so, how did that influence the person she is today? “There's a little truth in that, I wasn't the 'it' girl growing up but I had my days. I was very shy but I outgrew that as I got older.

“I believe it's not always about your beauty but your hard work. Beauty may open a few doors, but it takes a lot more than good looks to make it to the top. Work hard, make noise, you'll be heard and seen. Stay true to yourself,” Shimuketa said.